Mike Garrod | Stalham Farmers' Club | Leading speakers from the agricultural industry.

Mike Garrod January 4, 1932 to December 30, 2023.

A great supporter of the Clan Trust, Mid-Norfolk farmer Mike Garrod, has died six days before his 92nd birthday, at his home in France.

He was the second youngest chairman of Norfolk National Farmers’ Union in 1970, aged 38. Another leading NFU official at Agriculture House, Norwich, former club president William Donald, who died in 2018, was 41 years old when elected in 1977.

Mr Garrod, who farmed at Beck Farm, Billingford, was chairman of the NFU’s sugar board in 1982 after two years as vice-chairman, when beet growers were hit hard by a triple whammy of misfortunes. Four of 17 factories, including Ely, were shut in 1981; England’s sugar quota was cut by 10pc and the British Sugar Corporation was privatised as the government’s 25pc stake was sold.

However, his leadership of the sugar industry and later for beet growers in Europe and around the world was recognised by France’s agriculture minister. He was awarded the Ordre du Merite Agricole in 2002.

His role in reviving the spirits of growers and Norfolk’s cornerstone beet crop was crucial in his five years in office. He then represented Norfolk on the NFU’s national council, having been elected a deputy delegate in 1974.

His influence on sugar policy continued when elected chairman of Europe’s beet growers, CIBE. He became its first British president to represent Europe on the world. As secretary, he re-energised the Paris-based World Association of Sugar Beet and Cane Growers, which had been formed in 1980. He organised conferences around the world among his other many duties.

His father Algy William Garrod, who was a tenant on 1,150 acres on the Earl of Leicester’s Holkham estate at Manor Farm, Bintree and Beck Hall, Billingford, had been founder chairman of Reepham NFU branch. After his sudden death in 1954, his oldest son, then 22 years old, took on the farms with his mother and brother.

He rose rapidly through Norfolk NFU becoming its second youngest chairman, aged 38, in 1970. In that year, the NFU’s newly-elected president, Henry (now Lord) Plumb urged members to back a national boycott of markets from May 10. This protest at the government’s annual price review was effective as 250,000 pigs, 50,000 cattle and 200,000 sheep were withheld. Norwich, then one of the country’s biggest livestock markets saw a tenth of the stock sold. Mr Garrod said Norfolk farmers had been almost 100pc in support. However, the NFU’s boycott was later ruled illegal.

Born on January 4, 1932 at Manor Farm, Bintree, Michael England Garrod was named after his great-grandfather Richard England, a founder of the Norfolk County School at North Elmham to Algy William and Dorothy Irene Garrod. His maternal grandparents had a mill at Great Witchingham.

One of his first jobs after leaving Bryanston, Dorset, in 1949 was to load beet. His father had bought a new ‘O’ type Bedford lorry – about the same time as the late Roger Beck’s father. We loaded it twice a day and it took two of us an hour. The first four tons were quite easy but the last two had to be thrown over the so-called “greedy boards.” It meant that a five-ton lorry could carry about 6.5 tons!

He was a long-serving trustee/ director of the Clan Trust, which was founded by the late Rob Alston, until retiring in December 1996.

Although hockey was his first love, he followed Norwich City even after he moved to southern France in 2001. He had married Sally in 1991.

He leaves a widow, daughter Solna and son Ian, brother Brian, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A funeral has held on Saturday, January 6. A memorial service is planned in Norfolk.

Michael Pollitt